Cats and dogs in Waterloo Region are better off because of Conestogo Public School and the Kitchener-Waterloo Humane Society wants to make sure they know it.
On Dec. 16 the Humane Society presented the school with the KWHS Going the Extra Mile (GEM) Award.
Since 2010, staff and students at Conestogo PS have raised more than $4,100 for the Kitchener-Waterloo Humane Society. Every year in November and December the school collects money and items for the animals from the KWHS Wish List. This year they collected more than 10 boxes full of toys, treats and blankets.
The initiative has been led by the school’s head secretary, Chris Bauer, each year. Principal Brian Beney explained her love of animals rubbed off on the students and they took on the fundraiser wholeheartedly.
“We are so incredibly thankful that we are able to receive this award today. We consider ourselves a very lucky school. We have been a part of this program for many years and every year it gets better and better,” said Conestogo student Holly Bromberg.
This year they raised just shy of $1,000. But their efforts this fall had twice the impact, as West Montrose resident John Fielding offered to match donations to the KWHS for Giving Tuesday up to $5,000. He was on hand to give the school the award.
“On behalf of the school we would like to say thank you. A very special thank you to Mr. Fielding for making our donation doubled,” said Conestogo student Ella Vrbanac.
Kitchener resident Keith Miller was inspired by Fielding to help the Humane Society as well.
“I was informed by John they needed a little help and so I said sure. I have a cheque for you,” Miller said.
He then presented the organization with a cheque for $26,000.
The KWHS GEM Award is presented to an individual group or organization who has made an outstanding contribution through participation and commitment to their local Humane Society and best demonstrates a commitment to serving others while enriching the lives of animals and those that live and/or work with animals in their community.
KWHS director of development Marjorie Brown explained Fielding approached the Humane Society in the fall looking to challenge Waterloo Region to raise funds for them.
“Mr. Fielding very kindly came into the association, had his picture taken, we posted it on Facebook and your champion saw it on Facebook and encouraged all of you to go out and raise as much money as you could because every loonie, toonie, box of goodies you brought in, Mr. Fielding was going to match,” Brown said.
KWHS executive director Jack Kinch, accompanied by the agency’s educator dog, Jake, explained why it was so important to recognize the school’s, Fielding’s and Miller’s contributions in this way.
“I’m so happy to see the enthusiasm in this room and I want to thank first of all Mr. Beney and Mrs. Bauer and the rest of the staff here for supporting and encouraging your efforts. This is where it all starts. Keith is a little bit older than you guys but his idea of philanthropy started the same age that you are. The little bits of projects that you undertake establish in you the ability to recognize needs in your community as you grow older,” Kinch said.